There are many gas detection products on the market that may appear to be the same. But a closer look at the specifications, functionality and features reveals big differences in what products can do and the potential value they can offer. Similarly, each individual application is also unique in its respective designs, needs and processes.

Know the risks at your facility

Before considering which equipment to use for gas detection, a risk assessment must be carried out. All companies with employed personnel are obliged to carry out risk assessments to identify potential risks. These may include potential risks of gas, vapor or lack of oxygen. If gas hazards are identified, gas detection is a method to reduce these hazards.

Identify the primary goal

Depending on the process going on at the facility and the gases being detected, off-site alarm readability and sometimes data logging may be required. Reporting may also be required for work environment reporting. Another factor influencing the need for improved reporting capabilities may be regulatory compliance or insurance conditions.

Ask the right questions

After identifying what the primary objective is, the appropriate equipment is selected by asking a number of important questions. These can be divided into three main categories:

The gases to be detected and where they may come from

Location and environmental conditions where detection is to take place

Ease of use for operators and service personnel

Identify the gases to be detected and where they may come from

The gases to be detected should be identified through the risk assessment, but experienced manufacturers and their authorized dealers can often assist in this process, based on their experience with similar applications. However, it is important to remember that it is the responsibility of the end user to identify any potential risks.

It is also important to identify potential sources of a gas leak as it helps to determine the number of gas detectors and how these should be placed.

Consider environmental conditions

The performance, accuracy and reliability of gas detectors are affected by the environment they are exposed to. Temperature, humidity and pressure levels at the site all have a direct impact on the type of equipment that should be selected. Additional factors such as potential variations as a result of a manufacturing process itself, can e.g. Seasonal changes also affect the type of device that is suitable.

Understand the product’s features

The next area to address concerns additional product functionality. Aspects such as cable configuration are important, especially when fitting into an existing application. If the device is integrated into a separate safety system, certain communication protocols may also be required such as HART®, Lonworks or Modbus®.

Consideration must also be given if a requirement for local displays on transmitters exists. Local configuration of the device and displays can also be a valuable addition.

Measure ease of use for operators and service personnel

Routine maintenance is another important factor. Some gases and vapors can be detected using a number of different analytical techniques, e.g. Hydrocarbon gases with catalytic sensors or Non-dispersive infrared NDIR. Catalytic sensors are not fail safe and therefore require a high frequency of routine maintenance, while NDIR-based solutions tend to have a higher initial cost, but may require less maintenance. An in-house resource to carry out such routine maintenance must be available, otherwise a third party must handle routine maintenance and calibration. This is also an important factor when choosing the right equipment and supplier.


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